Monday, July 6, 2015

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There is plenty to discuss about the 2014 Minnesota Vikings even when a game isn’t being played, but the actual on-field action is more fun than anything (at least that’s the hope).

I invite you to join me and some of the other VT‘ers for today’s live chat as we watch Teddy Bridgewater make his first career start against the Atlanta Falcons.

If you want to join, and I hope you do, then CLICK HERE right around kickoff.

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Teddy Bridgewater will make his first start today, which brings some much-welcomed optimism to this Minnesota Vikings team, and we are curious how you think they will fare against the Atlanta Falcons:

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The Vikings have announced that Matt Cassel, who fractured several bones in his foot on Sunday, and Brandon Fusco, who suffered a pectoral injury, will be put on injured reserve. Neither of them have received the Designated to Return label.

In addition, Chase Ford and Austin Wentworth have been signed from the practice squad to the active roster.

To take their spots, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and tight end Ryan Otten have been signed to the practice squad.

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While not as difficult as last week, it still seems somewhat silly to try and select a highlight player from a game that featured so much bad.

Alas, we will try. For the second straight week, the Vikings suffered a difficult loss. Despite holding a Saints offense that is historically prolific at home to 20 points, the Vikings offense could not muster anything other than three field goals for 9 points. The biggest news from the game is that the Teddy Bridgewater era has officially begun. After Matt Cassel suffered multiple fractured bones in his foot during a scramble in the second quarter, Bridgewater was forced to take control of a struggling Vikings offense and attempt a comeback on the road in the Superdome. All things considered, he performed well and showed a lot of poise against a defense that smelled blood in the water and pressured the rookie hard in his first start.

I know who I’d pick for the Player of the Game, but we’ll leave the decision up to you. Vote below for who you feel deserves the “game ball.”

Harrison Smith: #22 showed once again that he is a special talent and could very well be the best player on the Vikings current starting roster. He had multiple pass break ups, some great tackles and generally just seemed to be all over the field. Unfortunately, there was one PBU that he most definitely should have taken the other way but couldn’t bring it in. Still, another great game from the Vikings young safety.

Teddy Bridgewater: The future is now. As far as I’m concerned the rest of this season is about watching one #5 take snaps under center. The situation was less than ideal, our offensive line looked like a sieve, our receivers couldn’t get any separation, our running game was atrocious, and yet, Bridgewater stood in the pocket (or ran from it) and looked like he belonged there. Not much more you could ask from a rookie QB in his first regular season action in the NFL. Teddy ended the game 12/20 for 150 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions and ran for 27 yards on 6 attempts.

Anthony Barr: The rookie linebacker registered 2 tackles, 3 assists and 1 sack (his NFL career first) in this game. Not a stat line that’s going to knock anyone over but, in general, Anthony Barr looked good during today’s game. He’s been better than expected in his coverage and has shown flashes of greatness where his athleticism allows him to shine. Barr most definitely has some growing to do but has shown why he was worthy of a first round selection so far. (Of course, he could always pull a Kalil…)

Captain Munnerlyn: For sacking the quarterback of the cheatin’ Saints (even if it did result in a horrible call that very well could have cost the Vikings the game).

Cordarrelle Patterson: This is a reach. But, there’s still that feeling you get that he could go all the way anytime he touches the ball. So, Norv Turner, let Patterson touch the ball more! Patterson had 5 touches in this game: 4 receptions and 1 disastrous end around for a total of 54 yards. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about 10 touches too few. (Can we bring back the Randy Ratio? But, you know, for Patterson?)

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Per Adam Caplan at ESPN, the Vikings will sign former third-string quarterback McLeod John Baltazer Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad. The scouting report on him is well known—big arm, still raw.

Bethel-Thompson has quite a career in terms of where he’s gone and who he’s been with. After going undrafted at Sacramento State in 2011, he played in the Arena Football League for the San Jose SaberCats, then joined the San Francisco 49ers to be on their practice squad. Shortly after that, in the same year, he went on to play for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He ended up starting the last two games for them, the only games they won (it was a five-game schedule). Interestingly, he was coached by Denny Green.

Later that year, he signed on to the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

He was on the Vikings’ roster from 2012 to 2013, beating out Sage Rosenfels for the job. He was cut midway through 2013 for Josh Freeman. After that, the San Francisco 49ers picked him up and kept him on for a month before waiving him to their practice squad. He last throughout the 2014 offseason before getting cut in the first round of cuts.

After that, the New England Patriots signed him to their practice squad for about ten days, where he was cut from it on September 9.

And now he joins the Vikings once more.

It’s unclear who will be cut to make room, though Matt Vensel speculates it means that Chase Ford could get promoted. The easiest situation is if a player goes on Injured Reserve-Designated to Return, so that no one will have to be truly “cut.” If it’s Kyle Rudolph, that would make a lot of sense—promote a tight end up, sign MBT to the practice squad as functional depth at quarterback while Cassel recovers and move on.

The Designated to Return designation means that a player can return to the team but not count against the roster while he’s on the reserve list. He will be out for six weeks, whereupon he can return to practice. After eight weeks, he can be cleared to play. The issue for players is that they remain on the reserve list with a smaller salary, so they’d rather be declared “out” for six games. It’s also less flexible in terms of their recovery time.

To me, what’s most likely is that it’s Brandon Fusco who is actually potentially subject to this designation, given the fact that he will be seeking a second opinion for his injury.

If no one is moved to a reserve list, then expect a player to be cut, either from the practice squad or the roster in order to make room for a promotion (again, likely Chase Ford). If it’s a practice squad player, Josh Kaddu makes sense as he was the most recent signing. If it’s the roster, I would not be surprised to see receiver Charles Johnson go. While the Vikings can cut Charles Johnson, per the 2011 CBA, as a member of another team’s practice squad, he is entitled to three weeks’ pay as if he was on an active roster and also counts against the 53-man roster whether he’s on it or not. So they can’t cut him to make room. Thanks to Twitter user @aggromagnet and Daniel House at Vikings Corner for pointing that out!

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